Bridgewater, running game heats up in win

Teddy Bridgewater and the Vikings running game heated up in the second half, and the defense held when they needed it most in a 29-26 Vikings win.

After giving up the lead five times in the final minutes of regulation last year, the Vikings finally held Sunday against the Washington Redskins for a 29-26 win at TCF Bank Stadium.

In a first half that featured struggling offenses from both teams, the second half exploded with points. The Vikings trailed 10-7 at the half, but rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater started to heat up in the second half and the running game made a comeback, too.

Bridgewater finished the game completing 26 of 42 passes for 268 yards and a touchdown, and the Vikings got just enough out of running backs Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata. McKinnon rushed 14 times for 54 yards and Asiata scored three touchdowns, the final one with 3:27 to play.

“I was just trying to let them know that we mean business and I was trying to get the tough yards for our offense and score touchdowns,” Asiata said.

It was his third career game with three touchdowns. In fact, all nine of Asiata’s touchdowns have come over a three-game span.

In the first half, the Vikings rushed for a combined 14 yards and averaged only 2.0 yards per carry. Bridgewater, meanwhile, took both of his sacks in the first half, too, and it looked like the Vikings would head to the locker room trailing 10-0, but a Captain Munnerlyn interception with 59 seconds left in the half set up a 20-yard touchdown to TE Chase Ford, the first of his career.

For all the offensive problems both teams had in the first half, that changed quickly after halftime.

The Vikings’ first drive of the second half was a quick one, with McKinnon doing the damage. He started with a 15-yard reception that had 15 more added on with a roughing-the-passer call. One play later, he broke off another 15-yard run, then a 9-yarder to the 1-yard line. Asiata capped the drive with the dive into the end zone and the Vikings had their first lead of the game, 14-10.

Washington responded with a 56-yard drive that featured completions of 10 and 17 yards to Roy Helu and Jordan Reed, respectively. But the big play was actually a penalty. When Griffin tried to run wide for a first down, he slid for a 2-yard loss and Harrison Smith was flagged for a blow to the head, despite not making contact with Griffin’s head. On the next play, Griffin hit DeSean Jackson for a 13-yard touchdown.

The Vikings came right back down the field for a 76-yard touchdown drive. Bridgewater picked up three consecutive first downs, two passing and one with a 16-yard scramble. They got into the red zone with a 15-yard pass to Rhett Ellison, and Asiata followed that up with a 7-yard touchdown run for a 21-20 Minnesota lead.

True to form, the Redskins answered with an 80-yard touchdown drive, highlighted by a 56-yard completion to Jackson, who beat Munnerlyn in coverage. Six plays later, the Vikings were down 26-21 when Morris capped the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run.

The Vikings came right back with a 73-yard drive with consecutive 21-yard completions to Jarius Wright and Ford to get inside the red zone. Once inside the 5-yard line, Asiata got the call three straight times, capping it with the game-winning 1-yard touchdown run for the 29-26 lead with 3:27 to play.

This time, the defense held with the lead late in the game, despite the Redskins getting two chances on four down because of offsetting penalties. When Griffin’s final pass fell incomplete, the Vikings were able to run the clock down to six seconds and take the win.

“I was like, ‘No, he is not catching the ball on this one. I don’t care, he’s not catching the ball,’” Munnerlyn said about the final fourth-down incompletion to seal the win. “I just turned around and heard the fans go, ‘Wow!’ and there were cheering. … We finally closed the game out and we got the win.”

NOTES


  • The Vikings made rookies Jabari Price and Antone Exum inactive for the first time this season after both of them were guilty of special teams penalties in the last few weeks. Also inactive for the Vikings were FB Zach Line, LB Brandon Watts, G David Yankey, T Austin Wentworth, TE Kyle Rudolph.

  • For the Redskins, QB Kirk Cousins, WR Aldrick Robinson, RB Silad Redd Jr., CB Greg Ducre, LB Jackson Jeffcoat, G Spencer Long, T Tyler Polumbus were inactive.


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